Pheniramine (pheniramine maleate)

What is pheniramine?

Pheniramine is an antihistamine available in both oral and topical forms and is used to treat a number of different conditions. Oral pheniramine is found in multi-symptom over-the-counter (OTC) medicines used to alleviate symptoms due to hay fever, upper respiratory infections, and the common cold. Topically applied via eye drops, pheniramine can relieve redness and itchy eyes caused by pollen, ragweed, grass, animal hair and dander, and other eye allergens.

What is pheniramine used to treat?

  • Hay fever symptoms
  • Upper respiratory infection symptoms
  • Cold symptoms
  • Redness and itchy eyes
Common brands containing pheniramine:

Multi-symptom cold medicines:

  • Theraflu
  • Store brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health’s store brand)

Eye drop medicines:

  • Opcon-A
  • Visine
  • Store brands (ex. Walmart’s “Equate” store brand or CVS Health’s store brand)

How much pheniramine can you take?

Different types of products containing this active ingredient have different strengths. That’s why it is always important to read and follow the Drug Facts label. Most medicines warn against use of an active ingredient for longer than 7-10 days. Stop and ask a doctor if symptoms persist.

Safety guide for pheniramine

Pheniramine is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label directions.

Ask a healthcare provider before use if:

For multi-symptom cold medicines:

  • You do not know if your prescription drug contains a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI).
  • You have a breathing problem such as emphysema, asthma, or chronic bronchitis.
  • You have trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland.
  • You have heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, glaucoma, or thyroid disease.
  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Before giving to a child under 6 years old.

For eye drop medicines:

  • You have heart disease, high blood pressure, or narrow angle glaucoma.
  • You have trouble urinating due to an enlarged prostate gland.
  • Before giving to a child under 6 years old.

Do not use if:

For multi-symptom cold medicines:

  • You are currently taking a prescription monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or if you stopped taking an MAOI less than two weeks ago.
  • You are taking a prescription drug for depression, a psychiatric or emotional condition, or Parkinson’s disease.
  • Never use pheniramine or any OTC medicine to sedate or make a child sleepy.

For eye drop medicines:

  • You are sensitive to pheniramine.
  • You are wearing contact lenses. Remove them before use.
  • The medicine solution changes color or becomes cloudy.

Stop use and ask a doctor if:

For multi-symptom cold medicines:

  • You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.

For eye drop medicines:

  • You accidentally swallow the medicine. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
  • You experience eye pain or changes in vision.
  • You have redness or irritation that gets worse or lasts for more than 72 hours.

What are the side effects of pheniramine?

For multi-symptom cold medicines:

  • Drowsiness may occur. Alcohol, sedatives, and tranquilizers may increase drowsiness. You should use care when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery.

For eye drop medicines:

  • You may feel a brief tingling after putting the medicine in your eye.